What kind of music do you make?

The reading for today’s class, Rachel Richardson’s “Learning Image and Description,” sparked a newfound interest in sound for me. I have always noticed that in order to make a poem resonate well with its audience, the sound and momentum of the words must be in sync with its message. This is something that I’ve always been in awe of when hearing poetry. At slam poetry shows, I would be so in tune with the poet’s emotions because of the way that the poem sounded (although of course much of this also lends itself to the fact that the poet is performing.) But even in a poem that is meant to be read, rather than performed (the latter is subjective), like Maya Angelou’s “Caged Bird,” we can hear sounds as a bird takes flight. The depth of what it means to be ┬ácaged bird is pronounced because of the way that the flutter and breeze in its flight create a melody.

I’ve been looking into how to improve this in my own poetry. I ask myself questions, “Must I be a musician to write poetry?” Rhythm isn’t something that I’ve ever been good at. Two left feet have haunted me my entire life. Only recently, enlightened by the culture of places I’ve been to, have I been able to properly whine, capturing the tick-tock of the reggae. Before I only imitated. How can I produce the same success in my writing?

Perhaps with some writers it is just natural. A sort of vomiting of utterances and emotions that fall upon the page in the form of a tune. Do you guys have any thoughts and advice? Richardson mentions that the images in poems work because of their music: “Do they make music together? A percussive rhythm, an alliterative lull, an onomatopoetic evocation?” But how can I better form these images through music?

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